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Regal ceo retires after 28 years

Marc Barnes, Cecile Corral -- Home Textiles Today, December 10, 2001

Andrew Smithson, ceo of rug manufacturer and importer Regal, is retiring after 45 years in the retail and supplier industries, including the past 28 years at Regal in various executive capacities.

"It's been an absolute blast. An exciting every day of my 28 years at Regal," Smithson told HTT. "But most of all I've been blessed to have worked with a group that was second to none in the country and the industry. I've made lifelong friendships with the people I work with. I feel very blessed."

Springs Industries, which owns Regal, has not yet named a successor. The company is still determining Regal's future organizational structure, according to Ted Matthews, vp, corporate communications.

British-born Smithson started his career in retailing when he was just 17 years old with a marketing firm in his southern England hometown of Bornemouth. "I hadn't even gone to university yet when I started working," he said.

After moving to London to go to college, Smithson worked for department store Harrods as a buyer for small leather goods. He was soon offered a position as an executive exchange student for department store Carson Pirie Scott & Co. in Chicago.

"I was excited to have an opportunity to learn about American retailing," he said.

One year later, when his visa expired, Smithson moved back to England. But having made a good impression on his superiors at Carson, the department store helped Smithson attain a second work visa to come back to the store — this time as a full-time buyer of girls and boys sizes 1 to 6X for its budget store.

"I was thrilled to be back in America because I loved working at Carson, but I also had met my future wife there, and I wanted to come back to her," Smithson explained.

Steadily, Smithson climbed the ranks at Carson to divisional merchandise manager, then assistant store manager and finally store manager.

Smithson spent a brief stint — 1971 to 1973 — working as vp of the product division at The Playboy Company — "but I quickly realized it wasn't for me," he said.

That's when he turned to his contacts at Regal. Within two weeks, he was hired as vp of marketing.

"The company back then was not very big," he said. "I was hired to help put together a strong selling organization, and we quickly grew extensively."

A few years later he was promoted to company president, a post he held 20 years. In 1981, Smithson was given the additional title of ceo. Smithson's last day with Regal will be Dec. 31.

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